To get to my history book club I have to drive… too far to walk and it would take too long, I don’t cycle, the roads are just too dangerous, and my book club friend lives on a hill, and the buses are virtually non-existent and unreliable… so I drove. I arrived at my friend’s address and there was just nowhere to park. I was fifteen minutes early and I’d expected to sit in the car waiting until it was time to walk down her drive to her lovely apartment.

I drove round and round, further and further away, seeking somewhere to leave the car. A lot of the roads were restricted and no parking, and those that weren’t were nose to tail with other people’s vehicles. I got lost, found my way back, got lost again, and eventually, knowing I was in the wrong, parked on the road with a restriction. I wasn’t parking dangerously, or impeding other traffic, but I just shouldn’t have parked there.

The book we were discussing was a very old romantic historical novel, Katherine by Anya Seton. I think we all agreed it was very dated in its style, and some of it made uncomfortable reading with scenes we didn’t consider acceptable now. It was based on the true life of Katherine Swynford, née de Roet, who was the mistress and later the wife of John of Gaunt. I know nothing about the period so it was interesting from that point of view, but I didn’t think it was well-written, despite the amazing amount of research Seton had done decades before computers made it so much easier. She definitely needed to have remembered “show, don’t tell“, I thought!

After a very pleasant, interesting and enjoyable afternoon, I went back to my car and was not surprised to find that yes, I had a parking ticket. I wasn’t annoyed, but cross with myself – I deserved the ticket. With our council, if you pay quickly it’s half price so it wasn’t too bad. I was interested in the on-line paying procedure as it was exactly the same as any other purchase – ‘proceed to checkout’, ‘items in your basket’… I was impressed with how quick and easy it was… but still cross with myself. I don’t know what I will do next time… find a carpark, I guess and then allow half an hour to walk to meet my friends!


  1. Andrew Petcher

    An interesting point about what is acceptable now. Should we judge a book or a painting or a film by modern standards or just accept that times were different and people and authors had a different perspective. If we are not careful people will start dismantling Shakespeare, Dickens and Hardy for being inappropriate to modern standards. It is a bit like people wanting to remove statues of Cecil Rhodes. Where do you stand on this matter?

    Sorry to hear about the parking ticket.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      It’s hugely tricky, Andrew! One of my all time favourite children’s books, fabulous story, beautifully written – which I read as an adult and used when I was teaching, was, it now turns out, written by a man with an unhealthy interest in children. He was sent to prison for it… Should I never read any of his books again? Does what he did affect his work?
      You’re right with Dickens – what a dreadful man he was!! Does that mean he should be banished from bookshelves…
      I daresay things which are written now will horrify future generations, but they are of their time…
      Yup, a tricky one!

      Yes, that parking fine… silly me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Andrew Petcher

        Absolutely. I like the work of Laurence Durrell but it turns out that he was a very unpleasant man. I still like his work. Should I not read Hemingway because he liked bull fighting? I think you sum it up perfectly when you say “but they are of their time”.

        Liked by 2 people

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